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Last Updated on January 30, 2018

Do You Work More When You’re Happy but Less When You’re Sad? 10X Winners Don’t

Do You Work More When You’re Happy but Less When You’re Sad? 10X Winners Don’t

Nearly 100 years ago, two legendary explorers, two great rivals Robert Falcon Scott, and Roald Amundsen and their teams, raced to be the first to reach the South Pole.[1] As they marched, neither knew the other’s progress, but marched on with incredible strength and tenacity. The two men were very different, Scott a military man, traditional and professional; Amundesen, a stone cold arctic explorer who sought to be the first to reach the pole at any cost.

    In the end, it was Amundsen who got there first, Scott arriving a couple of days after. Amundsen turned and headed back, his journey home was largely without incident. Scott and his men, tragically, perished on the return.[2]

    Scott was an experienced navigator and explorer long before the south pole expedition. So why did Amundsen arrive days before Scott? What made Amundsen arrived first was his determination, tenacity, and his superior planning.

    It is a story I have long been fascinated by. The sheer drama and heroism of it is incredible. Yet, thinking about it now, I realize that there is so much that can be learned by it, not just about exploration, or history, but in any great undertaking, no matter what it is.

    The story is proof of the success of consistent progress, and something the writer Jim Collins calls the 20 Mile March. Where, he says, the key to success in something doesn’t lie in some natural ability or an individual’s personality, but consistent progress at all times.

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    The 20 Mile March

      On the south pole exhibition, Scott intended to do two things: 1) reach the South Pole before anyone else and 2) conduct research and study the South Pole

      Whereas Amundsen intended to only reach the South Pole before anyone else.

      While Scott and his team were researching and studying, Amundsen was constantly on the move, constantly heading towards the pole. Sure, there may have been days where Scott and his men moved many miles further than Amundsen and his team had that day. But Amundsen’s perseverance kept him moving ever onward.

        The story is proof of the success of progressive, consistent progress — marching for 20 miles no matter what condition.

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        Make the most of the 20 Mile March

          Breaking down the 20 mile march idea, it is possible to see seven steps that you must undertake in order to benefit the most. These are:

          1. Set performance markers

          Before you start on something, the first thing you should do is set a minimum acceptable level of success. Having a minimum acceptable standard forces you to push yourself in a kind of productive level of discomfort.

          It’s like the classic fable of the hare and the tortoise, the reason the hare ultimately lost the race is because he thought he needed to rest when he didn’t, he didn’t establish an acceptable level standard, and as such he lost to an opponent that was significantly slower than him.

          2. Set up constraints, so you don’t push yourself too much

          At the same time, it is just as important to set a constraint so you don’t push yourself too much and then burn out before you reach your goal.

          This is encapsulated by the term “20 mile march”, in good conditions, and on a good surface, a person in good shape can cover 20 miles in roughly 6-7 hours. This amount pushes you, and it can be hard to maintain. At the same time, this 6-7 hours will afford you enough time to rest so you can continue the same pace the day after.

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          3. Ensure that your plan is tailored around you and the task at hand

          Nothing worth doing is done easily, but to maximize your chance of success in a task or undertaking it is important to know not only your own strengths and weaknesses, but also the capabilities of those with you, for example your team mates, and to use this knowledge for your advantage.

          Adapt your plan around everything and you could have the most effective, and most skilled team in the world. But if your plan revolves around someone being able to do something they can’t, then it’s a bad plan.

          Even if you don’t have a team, the same rule applies. After all there is no point in setting yourself for a 20 mile march if you can’t walk.

          4. Ensure that you’re independent from outside forces

          Make sure your goals aren’t influenced by outside forces or influences. Another reason why Scott came second, and perhaps even why his expedition had such a tragic outcome, is because scientific groups at home were interested in research he was able to collect and any studies he was able to undertake. This made his mission more difficult and slowed him down.

          Only you know best about your skills and abilities, and whatever your task is, remember that you will be the one undertaking it, as such, be the boss of it. Any decisions you make along the way or any limitations you put in place along the way will be far more useful and effective than decisions made from outside, this is for one simple reason you will be working from knowledge of the situation, and they will not.

          5. Take control

          This is a similar point to above. But it could prove to be unwise to leave your success in your endeavor up to the actions of others, even if that person is trustworthy and dependable, it is possible that something could happen which will leave the other person unable to fulfill their role in the plan, leaving you stuck, and unable to achieve your goal even if you are ready for it.

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          6. Have a time frame

          As the first two points say, the right time frame is key, too short, then you risk pushing yourself too hard, being open to too much risk, or simply running out of time. Too long, then you risk ceasing to push yourself at all, risking the whole operation.

          7. Be consistent

          This last piece of advice is by far the most important. To succeed in anything, you need to keep moving forward, relentlessly and with consistency. It is inevitable that unexpected things will happen along the way, you may be moving into things you didn’t expect or plan for.

          Returning to Amundsen and Scott, nobody had made it to the South Pole before, nobody knew what to expect. But if you operate with self control, with knowledge and careful thought, then none of it will matter.

          Talent is overrated. The key to success doesn’t lie in any natural ability, but consistent progress at all times. Set yourself a clear goal, stick to your plan and make consistent progress and you’re getting closer to your goal every day.

          Reference

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on July 19, 2018

          What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)

          What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)

          If you have so many things to do that you often find yourself struggling to finish projects and tasks and move on to other stuff, you’re certainly not alone. Studies show that over 20 percent of the adult population put off or avoid doing certain tasks by allowing themselves to be overtaken by distractions.[1]

          What about the rest of the population? What do they do to prevent procrastination?

          In this article, I am going to explain to you why procrastination is so difficult to beat and how you can stop procrastinating once and for all by following a step-by-step guide. But first, you need to understand how procrastination happens.

          What is procrastination

          Piers Steel, the author of the book The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done, defines procrastination in this way:[2]

          “Procrastination is to voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay.”

          In other words, procrastination is doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones. The end result is that important tasks are put off to a later time.

          This comic is one of the typical examples of procrastination:

            Why stopping procrastination is difficult

            Human beings have limited self-control. Dr. Roy Baumeister, a psychologist from Florida State University, has been studying self-control and he has found that just like any muscles, human’s self-control is a limited resource that can quickly become exhausted.[3] When self-control is close to being depleted, human tend to choose what’s more pleasurable– the immediate procrastinated tasks instead of the actual works.

            At its core, procrastination is an avoidance strategy. Procrastinators choose to do something else instead of doing what they need to do because it’s much easier to choose pleasure over pain.

            In short, procrastination is so difficult to beat because it is a battle against human’s natural enemy, a human weakness that is in-born.

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            A step-by-step guide to stop procrastinating

            Despite the fact that it’s human nature to seek for immediate rewards and procrastinate, here I have a step-by-step guide for you to follow so as to stop procrastinating.

            1. Identify your triggers: the 5 types of procrastinator

            Identifying the type of procrastination you personally experience is an essential step for you to fix the problem at its root.

            Take a look at this flowchart here to find out what type of procrastinator you are:

              Which type of procrastinator are you? Let’s take a look at the triggers for your procrastination type:

              Perfectionist

              Being perfect is the pleasure perfectionists want. But often this leads to them being too scared to show any imperfections. Because of this, they frequently fail to complete things, as they’re forever seeking the perfect timing or approach. Tasks end up never being completed, because in the eyes of the perfectionist, things are never perfect enough.

              Instead of finishing something, perfectionists get caught up in a never-ending cycle of additions, edits, and deletions.

              Ostrich

              An ostrich prefers to stay in the dreaming stage. That way, they don’t have to work for real, or deal with any negativity or stress.

              Dreaming gives this type of people a false sense of achievement, as in their minds, they envision big, ambitious plans. Unfortunately for them, these plans will most likely stay as dreams, and they’ll never accomplish anything truly worthwhile.

              Self-saboteur

              A self-saboteur has bought into the line that ‘by doing nothing, bad things won’t happen.’

              In reality, self-saboteurs have developed a fear of making mistakes or doing anything wrong. Their way to avoid these mishaps, is to do nothing at all. In the end, they may make few mistakes – but they also see few accomplishments.

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              Daredevil

              Daredevils are those who believe that deadlines can push them to do better. Instead of having a schedule to complete their work – they prefer to enjoy time doing their own thing before the deadline comes around.

              It’s most likely an unconscious thing, but daredevils evidently believe that starting early will sacrifice their time for pleasure. This is reinforced in their minds and feelings, by the many times they manage to get away with burning the midnight oil. Often they sacrifice the quality of their work because of rushing it.

              Chicken

              Chickens lack the ability to prioritize their work. They do what they feel like they should do, rather than thinking through what they really need to do.

              Prioritizing tasks is a step that takes extra time, so chicken will feel it’s not worth it. Because of this, they usually end up doing a lot of effortless tasks that don’t contribute much to a project. They’re incessantly busy on low-impact tasks, but seem oblivious to urgent, high-impact tasks.

              2. Face your triggers and get rid of them

              Whether it’s fear of failure, overwhelming feelings, avoidance or convincing yourself you’re just too busy to get something done, you can improve your ability to be productive by eliminating your procrastination triggers.

              For Perfectionists, re-clarify your goals.

              Much of the time procrastination tendencies form simply because we’ve outgrown our goals. We’re ever-changing and so are our wants in life. Try looking over your goals and ask yourself if they’re still what you want.

              Take time out to regroup and ask yourself what you really want to achieve:

              • What steps do you need to take?
              • Is what you’re currently doing reflecting what you want?
              • What do you need to change?

              Write things down, scribble them out and rewrite.

              For Ostriches, do the difficult tasks first.

              Even if you feel you’re not a morning person, the beginning of the day is when your brain is most productive. Use this window of time to get the more difficult stuff done.

              If you leave your difficult tasks to later, you’re much more likely to put it off because you’re tired and lack motivation.

              Finishing lots of simple tasks at the beginning of the day such as reading all the new emails only gives you a false sense of being productive.

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              For Self-saboteurs, write out a to-do (and a not–to-do) list each day.

              Writing things down is powerful and psychologically increases your need to get things done.

              Each day, make a habit of creating a list of the tasks you know you’ll try and avoid. By doing this, it brings these ‘difficult’ tasks to your mind’s attention instead of keeping them locked away somewhere in your avoidance mode.

              Remember, think how satisfying and productive it feels to cross of a completed task.

              For Daredevils, create a timeline with deadlines.

              It’s common to have a deadline for a goal which seems like a good idea. But this is basically an open invitation for procrastination.

              If it’s a self-created deadline with no pressure, we tend to justify pushing it back each time it comes into sight and feel we haven’t yet done ‘enough’ to get there.

              Create a bigger timeline then within that, establish deadlines along the way. The beauty of this comes when each deadline completion is dependent on the next. It keeps you on track and keeps you accountable for being in alignment with the overall timeline.

              For Chickens, break tasks into bite-sized pieces.

              A lot of the time procrastination comes from overwhelming thoughts.

              If something feels too big to tackle and we don’t know where to start, it feels like a struggle. This is also true if our goal is too vague and lacking direction.

              Break down larger tasks into smaller ones and turn them into daily or weekly goals. Smaller steps may seem like the slower approach to achieving a goal, but it often leads you much more quickly to where you want to be due to the powerful momentum you get going.

              3. Take planned breaks

              The human brain isn’t designed to work continuously on the same task and this could be a reason for procrastination.

              Make sure you take regular, structured breaks away from your task so that you can come back refreshed and ready to be more productive.

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              A break as short as 5 minutes is enough to keep your mind sharp and wards off fatigue. I recommend you to use the Pomodoro Time Tracker. It is a great tool to help you take breaks at set intervals. Simply start the 25-minute timer, and follow the prompts.

                4.  Reward yourself

                It’s important to acknowledge and reward yourself for achieving even the small tasks. It creates a sense of motivation and releases those feel-good, productive emotions that spur you on to achieve even more.

                Make your reward proportional to the task you completed so getting a bite-sized task done gets you a cup of your favourite coffee or snack. Then plan a weekend away or fun activity for the bigger stuff.

                Personally I try to make staying focus more fun by using the app Forest. It turns productivity into a game. In the game, you can plant a virtual tree at the beginning of your work time. If you maintain focus for the duration of the timer, you’ll grow a tree to add to your forest. It’s rewarding when you can eventually grow a forest.

                  5. Keep track of your time in a smart way

                  If you want to prevent the bad habit of procrastination from coming back, keep track of the time you spend every day.

                  By having a clear idea of where you spend your time, you can always review your productivity and know which areas to improve.

                  It’s not easy to keep track of every minute you spend throughout the day so I recommend you to use the app Rescue Time.

                  It gets you a categorized breakdown of how you spend your time and helps you to find out how much time you’re really on-task. You can even label activities as productive and non-productive so as to block your biggest distractions.

                    Make procrastination under your control

                    Procrastination exists for many reasons and only you know for yourself what these triggers are.

                    Understanding what procrastination really is and the source of your avoidance tendencies is important in moving them out of the way and help you start the productivity momentum.

                    Reference

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